Types of Hearing Aids

Despite the fact that hearing aids all do essentially the same thing – amplify sounds to improve a patient’s ability to hear – and feature the same basic components (a microphone, amplifier and receiver), there are quite a few different styles to choose from. The hearing aid style selected should ultimately be based upon the individual’s type and degree of hearing loss, lifestyle needs, cosmetic preferences and budget.

UCHealth Hearing & Balance carries a large selection of quality hearing aids from the top manufacturers in the industry.

In-The-Canal (ITC) Style Hearing Aids

ITC hearing aids are worn inside the ear canal, making them nearly impossible for others to see. They contain a plastic molded housing that holds the electronics and come with a thin cord that is used to simplify removal. ITC hearing aids are suitable for patients with mild to moderate hearing loss.

PROS: Virtually invisible due to their small size and placement in the ear canal – perfect for those who value discretion.
CONS: Small size translates to shorter battery life and limited features; controls are difficult to adjust; earwax can accumulate and clog speaker.

This category includes CIC (Completely-In-The-Canal) and IIC (Invisible-In-the-Canal) hearing aids, which are even smaller. These are less likely to pick up wind noise but lack basic features such as a volume control.

In-The-Ear (ITE) Style Hearing Aids

ITE hearing aids are a little bit larger than the ITC style. They are worn in the ear canal but contain a faceplate that rests in the bowl-shaped concha of the outer ear. There are two styles available: full-shell (filling most of the concha) and half-shell (fills only the lower portion of the concha). ITE hearing aids are appropriate for individuals experiencing mild to severe hearing loss.

PROS: Includes additional features unavailable on smaller ITC hearing aids; easier to handle and adjust controls; larger battery means longer battery life.
CONS: Susceptible to wind noise; earwax frequently clogs the speaker; more visible to others.

This category includes RITE (Receiver-In-The-Ear) hearing aids, which contain a plastic housing worn behind the ear (similar to the BTE style) that is attached by a tiny wire to a receiver in the ear, and RIC (Receiver-In-the-Canal) hearing aids, which place the receiver in the outer ear.

Behind-The-Ear (BTE) Style Hearing Aids

BTE Hearing AidsBTE hearing aids hook over the top of the ear and are worn behind it. They are connected to an earmold that fits inside the ear canal with a thin tube. This is the most popular style of hearing aid due to its easily navigable controls and longer battery life. BTE hearing aids are great for all types of hearing loss and appeal to children and the elderly.

PROS: Helps with all types of hearing loss; a larger battery means a longer battery life; easy to handle and adjust the controls; provides more amplification than smaller types.
CONS: Largest and most visible style; may pick up wind noise.

Open Fit Style Hearing Aids

Open Fit hearing aids are a smaller version of the BTE style; they are worn behind the ear and come with a transparent tube and tiny earpiece that delivers sound to the ear canal. However, they lack an earmold, leaving the ear canal unobstructed and allowing sound to enter freely. This results in less occlusion and a more natural sound. Open Fit styles will work for mild to moderate hearing loss.

PROS: Less visible than BTE; no occlusion means more natural sound.
CONS: Prone to low frequency noise leakage; smaller size makes it more difficult to adjust.

Call UCHealth Hearing & Balance at (720) 848-2800 for more information or to schedule an appointment